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Old 08-22-2012, 03:55 PM   #21
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I found one on ebay new for $700 waco
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Old 08-22-2012, 04:27 PM   #22
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When we bought Hobo she had a ~ 5 cft Sub-Zero fridge and a ~5 cft Sub-Zero freezer with ice maker. The first 24 hours at anchor 400 plus amps, Yikes . We replaced both with a SeaFreeze custom, (4" of insulation), combination 6 cu ft fridge and 3 cu ft freezer. The fridge runs off a Danfoss BD35F compressor and the freezer uses a DB50F. We have a 1100 amp house bank. We have left the boat for 4.5 days at anchor and still had over 50% of the house bank remaining when we got back.

If you're a weekend cruiser, the AC fridge off the inverter makes some sense. We have met many cruisers with Grand Banks, Selene's, Nordhavns, Krogens, etc. who can't leave there boats unattended for more than 24 or 36 hours. In 4.5 +years we have never turned them off (except to defrost the freezer) or have we had any compressor issues. If we lose the freezer we still have the fridge or if we loose the freezer we can turn up the thermostat and have a fridge and a few barbecues. Danfoss utilizes the same electronic module in the both units so if you are into spares you only need one. I think you know what we like.
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Old 08-22-2012, 04:52 PM   #23
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Ask yourself this question - If a 120 volt AC "dorm" refrigerator powered by an inverter from 12 volt batteries was a reasonable and less expensive alternative than a "real" AC/DC refrigerator, wouldn't the entry level boat manufacturers like Bayliner and Glastron do this instead of installing an AC/DC refrigerator in their boats?

You didn't bother to post the capacity of your inverter, how it was installed, or your battery bank capacity. Is the inverter rated for continuous duty?

Remember, an AC/DC refrigerator runs and draws power until the thermostat determines that it's cold enough, then it shuts off. An inverter would have to run 24/7 to provide power even when the thermostat is satisfied.

Unless your electrical engineers are boaters and experienced with boat electrical systems, their advice is more apt to lead you astray than to set you straight.

BTW: You have what appears to be a pretty nice boat. Why screw it up with a dorm refrigerator? You'll have to put a real one in when it comes time to sell the boat anyway. Think of it as an investment.
Well put!

Boat manufacturers don't put 120 volt units in their small cabin cruisers because they know that a inverter, properly installed plus the price of the AC fridge will cost more than the DC fridge.

I have no issues with a full sized household fridge on a large boat, if you re-work the cabinets to make it look nice. The problem is household fridges seem to change sizes by a couple of inches every couple of years. This makes replacement problematic.

Marine fridges seem on the other hand to come in pretty standard sizes. Our 10 year old norcold was replaced by a vitrifrigo that dropped right in.

On a smaller boat, cheaping out on the fridge will just tell prospective buyers the kind of maintenance you did on your boat.
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Old 08-22-2012, 08:55 PM   #24
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It is all in the amps.
Get a true reading of the amp usage of whatever fridge you are looking at. Add 6 amps, continuous, for the inverter to just sit there and wait while the fridge is off, and add that 6 amps to the draw of the fridge when running. add it up over 24 hours and you have the usage. Now your charging system needs to put all of that back into your batteries, every day, without fail. That is just for the fridge. Don't forget to add in all the other loads that you have aboard. When you have the total, double it, as your charging system can't be expected to run at max output all the time.

I doubt your $150 AC only will come close to the efficiency of a DC only, if only due to having to run the inverter all the time. Under no circumstances go to another AC/DC, as you get the worst possible draw while operating on DC, due to the Norcold AC/DC being actually an AC only with a built in inverter. Get a Danfoss or equivalent DC only and watch your draw drop. In my case, I was able to reduce the no of batteries carried to 1/2 when I made the switch from Norcold AC/DC to Danfoss DC only.
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Old 08-22-2012, 09:41 PM   #25
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Our boat came with a Norcold AC/DC undercounter refrigerator/freezer. It was installed by the previous owner the year before we bought the boat, which was in 1998. While not the most efficient thing in the world, fourteen years later it is still working as advertised.

A few years ago it acted like it was getting ready to die on us, but today we're not sure if it was or we were having a battery issue. We were all prepared to replace it with a stainless steel AC/DC Isotherm but the Norcold "fixed" itself (or it liked the new kind of batteries we installed at the boat at about the same time) and it has been running fine since then.

While a more efficient refrigerator would be nice, and we really like the Isotherm that was in line to replace the Norcold, we follow the philosophy of not replacing anything on the boat unless it fails or no longer does the job we need it to do.

We are well aware of the repuation of these AC/DC units and while it may die tomorrow we attribute its long life to the fact that from the day we took delivery of the boat the Norcold has never been turned off. Even when the boat is in the yard for painting, the groundpower cable is still hooked up.

We like the AC/DC capabilites because at the dock should the AC fail the refrigerator will not switch over to DC and run the batteries down thus depriving the boat of power for the bilge pump which Murphy's law says that we would need at that very moment. (We turn off the DC breaker for the refrigerator when the boat is in its slip, that's why it won't switch over).

When we're using the boat we switch the Norcold over to DC which means we don't have to have the inverter going in addition to the refrigerator. Our boat has a generator so we can throw a charge back into the batteries when needed.

So we like the flexibility an AC/DC refrigerator/freezer gives us. It works well with our boat's very simple and basic electrical system. Other people prefer all AC or all DC. It's just a matter of preference, the boat's electrical system, and how one uses the boat.
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Old 08-22-2012, 09:56 PM   #26
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[QUOTE=Marin;99999]
"When we're using the boat we switch the Norcold over to DC which means we don't have to have the inverter going in addition to the refrigerator."



No, but there is no saving in amperes drawn while the fridge is cycled on, as it runs off of an AC compressor, with its own built-in inverter, so when you are away from a source of AC power (whether the shore power cord or your ship's inverter), its own inverter kicks in, making that DC into AC, and increasing the amperage draw from 2.7 (for the Danfoss DC only fridge) to 9 amps. The only type of fridge worse than this is the AC only, for which your ship's inverter would need to run all of the time, anticipating the fridge coming on.
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Old 08-22-2012, 10:15 PM   #27
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I totally agree the AC/DC Norcold is not particularly efficient compared to what's available today. But we see no advantage in replacing it at this point since it still insists on working properly. The higher power draw has not been a problem for us so far, even on our longer cruises to Desolation Sound and the like. Given my schedule that limits us to only one longer cruise a year and the fact that on these cruises we rarely spend more than a couple of days at any one remote location, the main engines are running almost every other day if not every day. Plus we have the 7.5kw generator. So battery power has never been an issue for us so far.

The same is true for the two and three day cruises we take throughout the rest of the year.

The Isotherm we would replace the Norcold with is also AC/DC but it uses a Danfoss compressor and it's much more efficient than the Norcold with it's odd little self-inverted AC unit.
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Old 08-22-2012, 11:44 PM   #28
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If we all believed we should do it because that's the way it's done there would be little progress and no fun. Besides, no 2 of us do the same kind of boating...should we all boat the same because we have the identical specified AC/DC fridge. Well, I think not and part of the fun is seeing what works best for me. I can't boast that I have a 'better' marine fridge, but my $160 chest freezer, brine brick and remote line thermostat are not only making me happy, but providing unlimited flexibility and entertainment.

It's funny that when we're growing up we are told that we are individual, different and special. Then as we get older our doctors, preachers, and everyone else want us to be identical...in the way you act, your weight - blood pressure and chemistry, the way you drive, what you eat, how much you save for retirement.

If you want to be a sheep, fine. I prefer life with a little more excitement.
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Old 08-23-2012, 01:01 AM   #29
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Reply to Tom at Post #7: tom, our voltage drop was caused by long cable runs from battery to circuit breaker panel to fridge and a too-small cable diameter, not by an issue with the battery itself. Running a larger cable a shorter overall length direct to the fridge moved the volts back up substantially. The Danfoss compressor, which is a great piece of kit, is nevertheless very voltage sensitive.
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Old 08-23-2012, 01:13 AM   #30
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Reply to Ron at Post #14: Ron, I can assure you that modern household fridges are better insulated than most marine types. First, just take a look at their comparitive wall & door thicknesses. Second, a quote from the refrigeration section of Victron's 'Energy Unlimited' book (available on their website) and directed at cruising recreational vessels: "The benchmark for energy consumption is standard household equipment, which now has excellent insulation........If permanent AC power from an inverter is available anyway, it is certainly advisable to install a standard household refrigerator and freezer'.

We have two fridges installed: an Isotherm marine fridge/freezer that was auto-sensing and is now direct-connected to the battery and so DC-only; and as described previously, is boosted by a computer fan in hot weather; and a domestic under-counter 'bar fridge', used mainly for keeping drinks cold, that is AC-driven and supplied by the inverter when we are offshore. Both work well and I think what works best for a given vessel is mainly about battery bank size and inverter quality. I also agree it has to look good !...so no velcro strips to secure doors !!
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Old 08-23-2012, 08:52 AM   #31
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I have to feel sorry for anyone who asks for advice on this forum, because when it's all over, he (or she) will walk away more confused than when the question was asked in the first place.

A lot of "information" has been posted in this thread, some correct, some slightly off, and some decidedly incorrect. Assumptions have been made that lead to wrong conclusions.

There are two schools of thought on this subject. One, use an "off the shelf" purpose built marine AC/DC refrigerator, install it, turn it on, and just use it.

The other group believes there is a cheaper way that can be cobbled up from parts available at Walmart that will do the job just fine.

I'm not going to change the mindset of anyone who is in the second group and they will not change my mindset. The OP and anyone else who is on the fence will have to make up their own minds. It's your boat.
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Old 08-23-2012, 11:10 AM   #32
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The other group believes there is a cheaper way that can be cobbled up from parts available at Walmart that will do the job just fine.

I'm not going to change the mindset of anyone who is in the second group and they will not change my mindset.

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Old 08-23-2012, 11:23 AM   #33
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I have to feel sorry for anyone who asks for advice on this forum, because when it's all over, he (or she) will walk away more confused than when the question was asked in the first place.

A lot of "information" has been posted in this thread, some correct, some slightly off, and some decidedly incorrect. Assumptions have been made that lead to wrong conclusions.

There are two schools of thought on this subject. One, use an "off the shelf" purpose built marine AC/DC refrigerator, install it, turn it on, and just use it.

The other group believes there is a cheaper way that can be cobbled up from parts available at Walmart that will do the job just fine.

I'm not going to change the mindset of anyone who is in the second group and they will not change my mindset. The OP and anyone else who is on the fence will have to make up their own minds. It's your boat.
Cobbled up or a MUCH better solution than an industry that has lagged behind every other industry on the planet that I can think of.

Many innovations in the 20th century and before came from someone's garage...and some of it turned out just fine...like Apple Computer products....and for that matter a couple of bicycle guys got the airplane off the ground.

You want to shop at marine stores, pay their prices and the whole process require NO thought on your part...fine..

But to look down your nose and post that snide flavor at people smart enough to innovate and solve problems whether the be to save money or solve the problems of cruising thatmost boat manufacturers only dream of....well I have a pet name for those that do that also...

Unless you are here for entertainment...many are here to hear ideas...not just West marine Advisor articles.
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Old 08-23-2012, 11:36 AM   #34
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Cobbled up or a MUCH better solution than an industry that has lagged behind every other industry on the planet that I can think of.

Many innovations in the 20th century and before came from someone's garage...and some of it turned out just fine...like Apple Computer products....and for that matter a couple of bicycle guys got the airplane off the ground.

You want to shop at marine stores, pay their prices and the whole process require NO thought on your part...fine..

But to look down your nose and post that snide flavor at people smart enough to innovate and solve problems whether the be to save money or solve the problems of cruising thatmost boat manufacturers only dream of....well I have a pet name for those that do that also...

Unless you are here for entertainment...many are here to hear ideas...not just West marine Advisor articles.
Oh come on, I completely agreed with his post.

Nobody here was looking down on anybody for cobbling up a repair or modification to their boat, and there is nothing innovative about installing a cheapo dorm fridge in a boat.

To stay on the subject, installing a dorm fridge isn't something I would have done on my smaller cabin cruisers, and its not something I would do on a larger boat either.

I'm all for saving money, but cheaper isn't always better, its just cheaper. On my boats I've always been in the "do it right" camp, even though at times it was difficult to write the check.
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Old 08-23-2012, 11:48 AM   #35
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Maybe only in your mind it's the right thing.

After a year or so on this forum there are a few that never think outside the box and for those ...have a cup of coffee and shoot the shi* in the local West Marine Store lobby.

There are some like me that come here to think completely outside the boat show box...exchange ideas...right or wrong and explore possibilities.

Some of my ideas have failed miserably and I have switched back to conventional wisdom. But for the most part my boats wind up better than what the manufactures have put out for sale, have saved tens of thousands over the years and NEVER have I encroached on safety.

Like I said..if a poster doesn't have much more to offer than what the West Marine or Boat US Tech has to offer...why waste the bandwidth?

And I have been around the block to know the difference in posting tone.
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Old 08-23-2012, 12:06 PM   #36
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Maybe only in your mind it's the right thing.

After a year or so on this forum there are a few that never think outside the box and for those ...have a cup of coffee and shoot the shi* in the local West Marine Store lobby.

There are some like me that come here to think completely outside the boat show box...exchange ideas...right or wrong and explore possibilities.

Some of my ideas have failed miserably and I have switched back to conventional wisdom. But for the most part my boats wind up better than what the manufactures have put out for sale, have saved tens of thousands over the years and NEVER have I encroached on safety.

Like I said..if a poster doesn't have much more to offer than what the West Marine or Boat US Tech has to offer...why waste the bandwidth?

And I have been around the block to know the difference in posting tone.

Ok, possibly I missed something in this thread, along the lines of innovative thinking.

Was there some new gadget suggested, that would make fridges more efficient? Was there some new way of cooling suggested that could possibly be the next "apple computer" (to use your example from above)? Possibly I missed this, and if thats the case my sincerest apologies.

What I read was not so innovative. It was walk into walmart, or target, buy the $70 dorm fridge on sale (since its back to school time). Install that in a otherwise nice boat.

Now, if someone wanted to put a second stand alone fridge, or a standalone deep freeze on their boat, thats another story. We all see that frequently.
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Old 08-23-2012, 12:12 PM   #37
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Not yet...but that doesn't mean someone isn't going to post something next that won't be if they are not shut down by the "conventional book thumpers"...and while maybe this thread's not the best example...there are plenty more that are.

By late fall I hope to do a flybridge, freezer conversion from a low dockbox and the guts of a cheap home freezer that should be 1/3 the cost of off the shelf marine store ones...Maybe it will work...maybe it won't...but at least I'll try and pass along success or failure to those that may be in the same situation that I am.

If I didn't say it loud and clear...I don't mind the two camps and their ideas...it's just how the thread pans out that can be the issue more than the topic....and the fact anyone can walk into a marine store and buy off the shelf...if the other camp doesn't suggest alternatives...why even have these forum discussions?
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Old 08-23-2012, 12:16 PM   #38
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Not yet...but that doesn't mean someone isn't going to post something next that won't be if they are not shut down by the "conventional book thumpers"...and while maybe this thread's not the best example...there are plenty more that are.

By late fall I hope to do a flybridge, freezer conversion from a low dockbox and the guts of a cheap home freezer that should be 1/3 the cost of off the shelf marine store ones...Maybe it will work...maybe it won't...but at least I'll try and pass along success or failure to those that may be in the same situation that I am.

Please post the results of that conversion. Thats the kind of thinking that will help everybody!

I'm looking at adding a built in deep freeze myself, and if I can save some $$$ I'm all for it.
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Old 08-23-2012, 12:24 PM   #39
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Please post the results of that conversion. Thats the kind of thinking that will help everybody!

I'm looking at adding a built in deep freeze myself, and if I can save some $$$ I'm all for it.
My son actiually suggested it....he has a nice, several year old freezer he got and doesn't need. He said to me why don't I just sawsall the compressor and plate out and add it as a component within another insulated box that fits and is attractive on the bridge, add ventillation to the compressor area and add a new insulated wall between the compressor and plate (he knows I'm good with composites).

The trick is the dimensions of the compressor and plate...I'm not sure his freezer will work until I take a few things apart and measure. But if the dimensions are good...the rig would cost between 1/2-1/3 of what the equivalent off the shelf stuff would be saving at least 2-300 dollars for a weekends work and the end result would look the way i wanted it...so this is the kind of stuff I'm talking about for those that don'yt have $1200-$2000 to drop into a professionally made, custom freezer.
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Old 08-23-2012, 02:24 PM   #40
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"The benchmark for energy consumption is standard household equipment, which now has excellent insulation...

However this insulation is so thin that it must be heated frequently to remove the moisture. Simplt place your hand on a newer house unit when the unit is cooling.

The "best" in class has been made for decades , Sun Frost,

but the size (because of thick insulation) and the price scare off the budget minder.

Even tho many alt energy folks claim a 4-1 savings by NOT having to create and store energy , for some the math never works.

Our NO Cold switches from DC to AC automatically , when ever AC is powered.
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